A new model for interaction between science research and TV?

A fascinating thing occurred this week. The website of top-notch scientific journal Nature uploaded the preprint of a paper on research looking into the alleged benefits of brain training games.

In and of itself this news may not sound revolutionary; Nature frequently publishes articles on neuroscience (and, I suspect, will be doing so more and more in coming years).   The thing I find interesting about this particular example is the fact that the research was initiated by the BBC’s peak-time science programme Bang Goes The Theory (awarded an honourable mention in last year’s round-up of Science TV). So what we have is television investing in science conducted by a recognised leader in the field of brain research (Adrian Owen, as also seen here) with the net result being a paper in a leading journal as well as an interesting programme.

Now clearly there is a lot of fundamental and important science that needs doing but will never attract the gaze or the funding of the BBC, Discovery Channel or so on. Nevertheless is this serves as a paradigm for a relationship that generates cash for research and at the same time enhances the quality and integrity of the science being discussed on the TV, that’s got to be a good thing. Right?

Science on the Telly: “And the winner would be…”

rosetteAt the risk of sounding like a Carlsberg advert, “The Journal of the Left-handed Biochemist doesn’t do award ceremonies, but if we did…” – what would be the winner of “Best Science programme” during the last 12 months?

In truth, I think it has been a bumper year for science programmes. There has been a tangible return to form at Horizon – the first three episodes of the current series, for example,  have all included significant coverage of molecular biology. There were commendable features to the mini-series Prof Regan’s Diet Clinic/Medicine Cabinet/Nursery/Health Spa (I have posted a separate review of Prof Regan’s Medicine Cabinet here) although it did let itself down at times by commiting some of the same mistakes it was accusing others of making. Pitched at a slightly different audience, it is also good to welcome Bang Goes the Theory to finally fill a gap in popular science coverage left empty since the demise of Tomorrow’s World around 2003.

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